We’ve all heard that two heads are better than one, and in the case of working in teams, there are big advantages to combining resources and talents. A major advantage a team has is its diversity of knowledge, ideas, talents, and depth of experience. However, diversity also produces conflict.
Conflict of some form is inevitable if you are involved in a team; whether it is at the office, church, club or organization. But if the team is open to practicing a few critical conflict resolution strategies, then conflict can be welcomed, and not dreaded. And conflict can be worked through while still accomplishing the goals at hand, and without dividing the team. There are five important keys to developing a cohesive team spirit when working with others. Learning how to use these keys will make working on any team more productive and peaceful.
1st KEY: Remember you’re part of the greater purpose
It’s normal for conflicts to arise when working with a group of people. When that happens, the general morale of the group may suffer. So if you aren’t quick to deal with it directly, you could end up with members working against one another, instead of together.
The success of any team depends on the members understanding that “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” In order to succeed, personal preferences sometimes need to be set-aside for the best interests of the group.
2nd KEY: Everyone on the team is equally important and valuable
Often times when working in a group, there will be people with different skill sets and experiences. Given that, it is important that everyone on the team be treated equally – as important and valuable contributors. When one individual considers themselves to be more important than another, communication breaks down and competition takes over. But when everyone is seen as an integral part of the team, communication is open and members feel valued and respected. And this allows for better cooperation and collaboration.
3rd KEY: Keep the communication lines open
This is essential not only up and down the chain of command, but all throughout the organization. Open communication is essential to the accomplishment of the team’s goals. Especially when there is conflict, communication must be encouraged so all matters can be resolved.
Conflict in teams need not be destructive. Conflict can lead to new ideas and improved processes. It can be considered positive, as it provides opportunities for people to negotiate, collaborate, and develop their communication and interpersonal skills.
4th KEY: Do not ignore the elephant in the room
If there are challenges, address them immediately. It is when conflict festers below the surface and is not addressed that the situation worsens and tensions rise. Morale is affected and the team gets diverted away from their goals.
5th KEY: Remain focused on the group’s mission
It takes a constant effort to remain focused on the group’s goals, especially when a project is taking longer than usual or runs into difficulty. Conflict can arise when roadblocks occur and things are going slower than planned. Some team members may want to blame others or label them as a weak link. While working to complete your team’s project, keep everyone focused on the goal by painting a picture of the end result. Celebrate your accomplishments along way and reflect on how far you’ve already come. By applying these five keys consistently you’ll be able to keep your team working in harmony and enthusiastically towards your goal, by minimizing the distraction of unnecessary conflicts.